Category: Tourism marketing

Persuade people not to poop in public but dissuade people from visiting India

So the last video I posted had some good reasons to visit Oman. This video will be a bit different.

I’m sure there are lost of good reasons to visit India. This video, however, will probably leave a dark brown stain on many travelers’ view of India as a tourist destination. For context, the webpage has some numbers about India:

“Daily 620 million Indians are defecating in the open. That’s half the population dumping over 65 million kilos of poo out there every day. If this poo continues to be let loose on us, there will be no escaping the stench of life threatening infections, diseases and epidemics.”

Certainly sounds like a problem. Maybe this video will help persuade people to stop pooping in public. It will definitely hurt India’s tourism marketing efforts.

Not the greatest spokesperson for marijuana tourism in Colorado

Now that recreational marijuana use is legal in Colorado, a number of tourism companies are trying to take advantage, hoping that Denver can be the new Amsterdam. According to owner Timothy Vee of Colorado Highlife Tours, “On our tours, we’re getting a lot of empty nesters that haven’t smoked pot in 20 years. We’ve also had people who have never smoked pot take our tours and had one couple get high and so paranoid that we had to interrupt the tour and take them back to their hotel.”

I can’t say that tempts me to try out the tour.

Bad publicity forces Spirit to do what is “just not fair”

Spirit Airlines has done a 180 in regards to the case of Jerry Meekins, a dying veteran who could not use his ticket. They went from this:

“Our reservations are non-refundable, which means we don’t do refunds and we are not going to issue Mr. Meekins a refund.”

The airline also said that it offers low-cost travel insurance that covers a variety of unexpected circumstances and added, “It wouldn’t be fair to bend the policy for one and not for all.”

“We receive many requests for refunds every day for similar situations. It wouldn’t be fair to bend policy for one and not all. We will not make customers who follow the rules pay for those who don’t. It’s just not fair.”

To this:

At a time of ever-rising airfares, Spirit Airlines makes commercial air travel affordable for many Americans. A very important part of keeping our airfares reasonably priced is our refund policy.

“Every day we seek to balance customer service with customers’ demands for the lowest airfare possible. But sometimes we make mistakes.

“In my statements regarding Mr. Meekins’ request for a refund, I failed to explain why our policy on refunds makes Spirit Airlines the only affordable choice for so many travelers, and I did not demonstrate the respect or the compassion that I should have, given his medical condition and his service to our country.

“Therefore I have decided to personally refund Mr. Meekins’ airfare, and Spirit Airlines will make a $5,000 contribution, in his name, to the charity of his choice, Wounded Warriors.

“We have worked hard to build a great company that makes air travel affordable while making our employees proud and customers satisfied. All of us at Spirit Airlines extend our prayers and best wishes to Mr. Meekins.

Now I have no problem with the CEO personally refunding airfare but I actually agree when Spirit says that they can’t offer a refund for one guy who chose not to buy travel insurance without being unfair to all the other folks who bought tickets but decided not to buy travel insurance.

What makes the Jerry Meekins case different? Well I’d like to say that it’s because he’s a veteran. So then Spirit should offer free insurance to all veterans who reserve tickets with them. Do you see that happening?

The next possibility is that his doctors thought it would be better if he didn’t fly. Then again, most doctors will tell you that flying isn’t good for you. For example, a chiropractor told my wife there was no way she could protect her bad back on a long flight.

But then again, this was a terminal case – not just a bad back. Maybe everyone who gets diagnosed with something life threatening should be able to get a refund? In this case, Mr. Meekins knew he had cancer but learned it was terminal after buying the ticket.

Or, we just have to face that the media coverage probably made Spirit cave this time, even though it hasn’t seemed to stop them from making sexist and controversial ads. Chances are that what’s right or what’s fair had nothing to do with either decision.

And finally, why do Americans feel entitled to refunds when they don’t buy travel insurance? I wonder if people in other countries feel the same way because I understand that travel insurance is a far more common investment in Europe than it is in America.

I’ve been called cold-hearted before (but I think I’m just misunderstood), but it seems to me that when you buy a ticket you should either buy the insurance or decide that you’re willing to take a chance that something unforeseen will prevent you from traveling.

Spirit Airlines Colombia sale advertisement – secret service scandal made fun of

We’ve talked about controversial ads from Spirit Airlines before so let’s talk about their latest.

“More bang for your buck” is a clear reference to paying prostitutes for sex. “Upfront payment is required” must be a joke about the allegation that one secret service agent refused to pay.

What do you think about their latest effort to add humor to advertising? Offensive and/or sexist? Clever and/or funny? All or none of the above?

I don’t understand the problems people have with this ad

This ad was pulled by North Dakota because it became controversial after negative comments on Facebook. The picture seems pretty tame to me. The text: “Drinks, dinner, decisions. Arrive a guest. Leave a legend.”

I don’t get it. How is it that this ad received enough criticism to propel the story to Yahoo’s front page? And why do they have to remove it from Facebook but the “photo will remain in the printed version of the 2012 visitors’ guide?”

Related old blog entry: controversial ad for Korean air with woman on her knees and controversial Spirit ads.

Yoga on vacation – how much should it cost? How should it be marketed?

Today I saw two Yoga / vacation resort ads. One from Groupon I might buy. And one from Four Seasons Maui that made me angry.

$850 for 5 nights in Costa Rica (through groupon, the normal price is 1700 something), for two. Includes breakfast, dinner, one yoga class. I can’t seem to link directly to the thing so find Getaways and then “Samasati Nature Retreat – Limon, Costa Rica, 5-Night Stay for Two in Private Caribbean Bungalow Room. Combine Up to 10 Nights.”


$3800 for one at the Four Seasons Resort Maui and an event called “The Body, Mind, Spirit Equation: a Yoga Retreat” from February 27-March 3, 2012.

This will be led by “sought-after Kathryn Budig, a Los Angeles-based instructor whose clientele includes celebrities.” Luckily I know that just because something is associated with celebrities doesn’t make it especially valuable. I guess that’s extra true of unnamed celebrities. And the press release I got doesn’t name names.

Another thing from the press release I have to question is the claim that, “This retreat is perfect for students at all levels of practice.” Perfect for everyone? Yeah right. I’ve done yoga workouts that were too easy and tried others that were too hard. Plus some people go for all that meditative stuff while others just want to get a workout.

Not that it wouldn’t be fun…

But what I really hate how she says if you don’t put yourself first sometimes you’re doing a disservice to the world. I agree with the statement, but not that that putting yourself first requires you to spend $3800/ person. Right before checking my email and finding this press release, I had just done some yoga in my home as two stray dogs I rescued lay next to me on the edge of my mat. I like it better that way – I can save a few stray dogs with $3800 and still put myself first and do some yoga.

Now if you choose, to do the Maui yoga thing, I don’t blame you. I like yoga. I think I’d like Maui. But the way these people are trying to sell it bothers me. At the end of the video she says she feels spoiled rotten. That seems a bit more honest to me. I like to spoil myself too but I like to be honest about it.

How do I get my free ticket to Japan?

Interesting marketing idea but I don’t see how to apply:

Japan’s national tourism agency has announced plans to give away 10,000 free flights to the country to international travelers as part of an initiative to reinvigorate an industry that has slumped since the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Fukushima in March.

The Yomiuri newspaper reports that potential visitors will have to apply for their free tickets and will be asked to write reviews of their experiences in Japan. If the reviews are solid, the thinking seems to be, the agency will have bought itself some good press after a long dry spell.

Why is Vancouver so popular with English learners?

I meet a lot of non-native English speakers who go abroad to study. The other day I was talking to a guy who went to Toronto for a semester and I said, “Toronto?”

It’s not that I’ve never heard of Toronto but I usually hear Vancouver instead. Vancouver is a wildly popular destination for people who want to study English abroad (this Rocky Coach Tour review was written by a student who had studied in Vancouver). Now it is a bit closer to Korea and Japan than Toronto and a lot of other places but so is Hawaii and so is Alaska. How did Vancouver get so popular?

Students who have been to Vancouver tell me that it is a beautiful city.As they say in that ad, Vancouver restaurants are supposed to be very good. However, most of the students I’ve talked to seemed to end up in Vancouver because of word-of-mouth advertising; that’s where their friends went so that’s where they went.

I did a search for Vancouver tourism marketing but I wasn’t able to find any concerted effort to market to English learners. Am I missing something or is Vancouver’s popularity for English learning really just based on word-of-mouth advertising?

Is this Korean Air advertisement classy, sexy, sexist, or what?

A friend of mine recently shared this Korean Air ad from a 2007-2008 ad campaign. This one was in newspapers and magazines including Newsweek Asia.

There was some text with the ad (I also cropped out a ton of white space):

From departure to arrival, only dignified services for our dignified guests.

Excellence in service

When you land we believe you should be in the same good condition as you were during take-off. That’s why our delicate service with a smile remains constant throughout the flight until you reach your destination.

At least some westerners have called the ad sexist but so far as I know this hasn’t happened in Korea. Interestingly, in Korea, it’s not unheard of for waitstaff (mostly waitresses I guess) to serve from their knees if it’s a very fancy, traditional Korean restaurant. The places I usually go you’re much more likely to get kicked or stepped on by the waitstaff (usually waitresses).

The point is in Korean culture, serving from this position probably comes off to most as a sign of deep respect. Bowing while on your knees is the big one (service for nobles was always done this way in the past and even today when my wife’s family does a ceremony for their ancestors, we pour alcohol for the deceased from our knees) and kind of using both hands to hand the drink over is a very very common one.

I don’t want to sound like I’m defending this ad too much – just sharing what I know about Korean culture after living here for 9+ years. I certainly see a sexy woman on her knees and understand that many people will find this ad sexist. My Korean wife said the ad was maybe a little weird or maybe a little sexist because the flight attendant looked like a slave more than a flight attendant.

Anyway, is the ad inappropriate (offensive or demeaning to women)? Is it a sign that Korean Air treats their flight attendants in a way that would never work in American culture? Is it just a sign the flight attendants on Korean Air respect their customers more than flight attendants on American airlines?

Anyone changing plans to visit Thailand? When will you be willing to go?

What can Thailand’s tourism industry do to recover from from the negative publicity generated by recent events? What would it take to get you to put Thailand back on your list (or are you willing to go now despite the travel warnings)?

I was having dinner with some colleagues and they were talking about an upcoming conference in Thailand that has needed to extend its deadline for submissions. Apparently they can’t find enough presenters this year. You have to wonder how large a financial toll the drop in tourism is going to take on Thailand.

Some people are calling this the worst thing that has ever happened to Thailand’s image as a friendly, gentle tourist destination and fancy hotels are closed (with razor wire) while occupancy at the open hotels is 20-30%.

The New York Times said 47 countries have issued travel warnings. Here are a few official statements:

USA: “US citizens should defer all travel to Bangkok and defer all non-essential travel to the rest of Thailand. The Department of State has authorized the departure of all non-emergency US government personnel and eligible family members from Bangkok.”

Australia: “The security situation in Bangkok has deteriorated significantly this morning. On the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Government has raised the level of the travel advice to not travel to Bangkok.”

Thailand: “Visitors and tourists are advised to be vigilant, follow news developments, exercise extra caution and avoid areas covered by the declaration of a severe emergency situation.”